Exterior Painting Guide

Great curb appeal holds together the threads of safe family neighborhoods.

Exterior Painting Steps:

1) Scrape and Sand
Use an appropriate sized scraping tool.  Either a stiff 3 1/2” scraping knife or a drag style scraper.  Sanding blocks come in a variety of grits.

2) Power Wash
We partner with a professional power washing company in town.  They focus on low pressure chemical washing and do not use the power washer to chip off paint.

3) Patch Surface & Caulk Seems
You’ll need an appropriate sized putty knife, usually 1”-3”, Fast ’n’ Final, wood filler, Caulk and a Caulking gun.  A bucket of water and a rag are also helpful.

4) Spot Prime
To spot prime, you’ll need a bucket, primer, a mini roller or 9” roller and a brush.  

5) Masking
Masking includes the process of taping and covering areas we don’t want to paint.  You’ll need tape, paper, plastic and the 3M Hand Masking tool.

6) Spray, Brush or Roll
You’ll need the sprayer and three five gallon buckets, a brush and bucket or a roller frame, cover and tray.  Keep rags handy as well.

7) Clean Up
To clean up you’ll need trash bags, gloves, a push broom, rags and a strong cleaning agent.

Tools and Sundry Checklist:

  • Caulk and Caulking Gun 
  • Putty Knives (1in-6in)
  • 5 in 1 tool
  • Fast ’n’ Final
  • Wood filler
  • Sanding Blocks
  • Power Washer
  • Rollers and Roller covers
  • Exterior masking tape, paper and plastic
  • Screwdrivers
  • Razor Blades
  • Sprayer Equipment
  • Exterior Primer
  • Exterior Paint
  • Sponge or Rags
  • Plastic

Scrape and Sand
A wide variety of scrapers are available for scraping away old paint failures.  The stiff scraping knives and the drag type scrapers work best. Or make use of a power sander.  When scraping, it isn't the goal to eliminate all of the old paint.  By removing too much of the old paint you stand at risk of damaging the wood and spending unnecessary time chipping off paint that would otherwise adhere to the surface for a long time.  Be thorough, but don't let this process drag on.  As you scrape, keep a sanding block near by and lightly sand the area after scraping. The goal here isn't perfection but rather sanding down rough areas that would make patching difficult.  When working on a step ladder or extension ladder make sure to never reach higher than 4 feet about the ladder. Avoid standing on the top 2-4 rungs and don't over reach or twist your body.  Make sure the ladder is securely standing on level ground.  When leveling the ground use approved tools like the Ladder Pivot tool to level the ground or roof you are working on. Make sure the ladder is not damaged.  If it is, tag it and remove it from the job site.  When placing the ladder against a surface make sure that while standing erect, the arm can reach out directly and grab a ladder rung of equal height.  When using a ladder to board a roof, make sure it is extended 3 feet above the roof line.  Using rope attachments or another team member is a good idea to secure the ladder.  Use blue tarps underneath the area you are scraping as to contain paint chips keeping them out of the lawn.  At the end of each day, bring the tarp into an open area and use a push broom to sweep up the chipped paint.

Power Wash
Power washing is an easy and effective method of preparing the surface needing painted.  Its also necessary in ridding surfaces of mildew by using the chemical solution tank and nozzle attachment.  We partner with a local power washing company for this step.  Make sure to contact the power washing company at least 48 hours before you are done scraping to give enough notice. Plan your day accordingly to schedule around the power washing leaving enough time to dry before the next step.

Never use a nozzle that causes damage to the wood surface.  Instead use the general purpose or delicate nozzle with a wider spray angle.  Make sure to keep enough fuel on hand and follow the instruction manual on how to operate the power washer.  Wash every square inch of the home before painting and allow the house to dry completely before proceeding. Be careful to avoid standing in the way of the stream as it can break skin, never shoot it at any other people or animals and wear eye protection to shield the eyes from debris.

Patch the Surface & Caulk Seams
After the scraping is completed in order to create a smooth surface use a wood filler or exterior rated spackling to patch scraped areas.  Use a broad, flexible putty knife as an applicator.  Caulk the seams and cracks where ever present.  Use a bucket of water and a rag to help you smooth the caulking lines with your finger.  After the wood filler or spackle is dry sand it down quickly with an electric and sander.  Speak with your District Leader to know how detailed to be with patching.  For the most part we are filling major holes, damages and cracks. Dust the facade in preparation for painting.  For Aluminum or vinyl siding, Scraping, Sanding and Patching may not be necessary.

Spot Prime
Spot priming is a process where you prime only those areas of exposed wood that were revealed while scraping and sanding.  Spot priming ensures proper adhesion on latex paints on bare wood surfaces.  Do no attempt to prime the entire surface.  Areas where the existing paint is still in tacked can be painted over in the next phase.  The spot priming phase is intended to be quick, but it is very effective in properly preparing surfaces for long lasting paint finishes.  Use either a mini roller or larger to apply the primer quickly and efficiently.

Masking is the one of the most important parts of painting an exterior house, especially when spraying. Windows, brick, cement and light fixtures or any other item not getting painted must be protected by masking, paper or plastic.  Use of the 3M hand masker speeds this process along.  Only mask as much as you’ll be able to paint in a single day.  Mask one side of the house at a time and then spray and remove the masking after.

Spray, Brush or Roll
Deciding on whether to spray, brush or roll should be determined by the supervisor.  In most instances when painting and entire house we want to spray as much as possible. We use the sprayer more as an applicator rather than a finishing tool.  We may use extensions that make application and back rolling quick like the Graco Jet Roller.  As a general rule of thumb, spray the siding and brush or roll with a mini roller, the trim. It is important to leave yourself enough time at the end of the day to properly clean the sprayer.  Refer to the sprayer guide for operating and cleaning the sprayer.  When brushing, make sure to use at minimum a 2 1/2” angled sash brush.  Use long, even strokes and apply liberally.  Don’t paint in rainy or cold weather below 45 degrees.  On hot days remember to hydrate often and try to work on sides of the house that are shaded, moving around the house as the time of day changes.  Do not smoke on or around the work site.

Clean Up
At the end of every work day it is requisite to clean up the job site.  Make sure to leave enough time at the end of the day to do this.  Make sure all company belongings are out of site and secure.  Fold tarps neatly and put all supplies and tools in their respective bins.  When finished spraying or painting remove all tape and masking.  Remove any overspray using denatured alcohol or other paint remover solution.  Clean out your brushes with a wire brush and bucket.  Make sure the water runs clean enough to drink from the bristles of the brush. Collapse all ladders and stack them neatly, down on the ground in the back of the house and chain them together.  Make sure all garbage has a lid covering it.  Communicate with the customer about your plans for return.  If the weather forecast says rain, make sure they know that you will not be able to paint the next day but will try to make a concerted effort to arrive to the job site if the weather is clear.  

The video to the right is a real world example of the process of painting an exterior house in its entirety.  Following the steps outlined in these videos we are sure to have a consistent project and beautifully painted house.

When You’re Finished.
Check your work
A paint job is really only as good as the prep work gone into it. Make sure to double check your work to see if you've missed anything because you won't want to go back and attend to any missed areas. Fixing is always harder than preventing. Let your supervisor know you are ready to begin the next task or ready to clean up.
Track your progress
Make sure that as you go from task to task that you are tracking your time in the time sheet application. This will ensure you are accurately paid for what you are doing and can help you to progress as a painter with greater earning potential.